Happy Birthday
by Kim McFarland


Red was awake, and she hurt.

She was lying on her back in her bed on the floor. It was not as comfortable as her hammock, but she hadn't slept up there for so long she had taken it down.

She hurt, and her mind felt fuzzy. She had the feeling that she'd been drugged. She tried to sit up, and whimpered with pain.

A hand touched her cheek. "How do you feel?" Boober's voice said softly.

She tried to look around. Where was he? Oh. She realized that he was sitting behind her, sort of, and her head was in his lap. She mumbled, "My everything hurts."

"I'm not surprised," he replied gently.

"Where's my baby? Is she all right?" Red asked anxiously.

"She's fine," Boober said in the same calm tone. He stroked her hair—which was down; her pigtails had come loose long ago—and repeated, "She's fine and healthy. Gobo's taking care of her now. With a little help from Wembley, Mokey, and the kids."

"I want her."

"He'll bring her back soon enough. He can't feed her, after all."

She giggled at the thought of him trying. Then she said, "I thought I was gonna die. It wasn't this bad for Mokey."

It was a few moments before Boober spoke. Still stroking her hair, he told her, "You had a much harder time than Mokey. Things got... complicated."

"What happened? All I remember is Weft came over, and Wembley and the kids went away."

Boober closed his eyes. Red had been practically out of her mind by that time. Boober had sent Wembley to go get Weft, Fraggle Rock's midwife, and take Sage and Janken with him, and not come back. The baby had been in the wrong position to be born, and Boober had not known what to do, but whatever happened next, he didn't want the kids to see it.

Weft had trained him, and he could handle a normal birth. Despite his squeamishness, there was such joy it the beginning of a new life, he wanted to be a part of it, plus he had a wider range of medical knowledge than Weft did. But Weft knew how to handle birthing emergencies, and this had been one. She had turned the baby—Boober had forced himself to watch; one day he might have to do that too—and coached Red through the rest of a breech delivery. Boober had been terrified that they were going to lose Red or her child. But the baby was strong and healthy, and now he was going to watch over Red until she recovered.

Right now Red didn't need all the details, however. She'd been through too much, and the threadroot he had given her before the stitches would keep her groggy for some time. He said, "You know how babies usually dive into the world?"

"Yeah?"

"Yours did a backflop."

Red laughed, then winced. "That's why it hurts so much, huh?"

"Yeah. I'm afraid rock hockey season is over for you."

"Hah." Rock hockey season hadn't even begun for Red; by the time the greaseberry leaves were ready to pick, she had been too round and clumsy. She looked at her stomach and said, "Am I done? It looks like there's another in there."

"That's normal," he replied.

"She cried when she was born. She cried," Red said, and choked.

When a Fraggle baby was born, someone would tickle the soles of its feet, making it laugh. That was the right way to begin a life; with a happy sound. But after all that baby had been through, Boober had been relieved to hear her make any sound at all. At that moment, her angry wail had been the most beautiful sound in the world. "After all she went through, do you blame her?"

"No, I guess not."

They were quiet for a little while. Then she said, "I feel broken inside."

"I'll get something for the pain. But you have to promise to stay still. You have a lot of healing to do."

"It's a deal." If she moved her lower half, she hurt. She was going to stay as still as she could.

He lifted her head and slid his legs out from under her head, then replaced them with a pillow. "I'll be right back."

"Okay."

He scurried off. She must really be wrecked up, she thought, for Boober to hover over her like this. For once she wouldn't object. She felt awful. She wanted to be cared for.

It wasn't fair, she thought. She was strong. She was the strongest Fraggle in the Rock! If just anyone could have a baby—well, any female Fraggle—then it should have been a breeze for her. Her body had let her down at the worst possible time.


"Red?"

"Gobo?" she looked over.

"How are you? Boober said to come see you."

He had a small bundle in his arms. Red said, "Oh! Bring her here!"

Gobo did. Red held out her hands more eagerly, Gobo thought, than she had ever reached for a trophy. She gathered the tiny brown-and-yellow Fraggle, half hidden by a diaper, to her chest. Blindly, because baby Fraggles' eyes don't open until a few weeks after birth, she pressed her face into Red's fur, breathing in her mother's scent.

Red melted. For the moment her pain was forgotten. She had a little girl. She was a mother. She slipped a finger under one of its tiny feet and stroked its sole. The baby squirmed, then laughed in a squeaky, high-pitched voice.

"Happy birthday, kiddo," Red whispered.


Fraggle Rock and all characters are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. The overall story is copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9 at aol dot com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.